The Department of Defense today released documents related to the development of interrogation procedures at Guantanamo. These documents are made available to demonstrate that the actions of the U. S. Defense Department are bound by law and guided by American values.
The Department is providing this level of detail realizing that we are still a nation at war and we must be careful in what we disclose to our enemies. Throughout this conflict the interrogation procedures have been reviewed and modified when deemed necessary and appropriate. These documents demonstrate the concern to balance law with the need to obtain intelligence on the war on terrorism. The interrogations procedures discussed are an important tool to attempt to prevent further attacks by the terrorists intending to do Americans harm.
Development and approval of interrogation techniques is done in a deliberate manner with strict legal and policy reviews to ensure the protection of the detainees, our institutions, and our troops responsible for carrying out these operations. The President’s February 2002 determination set the guidelines for detainee operations in the war on terrorism. The processes and procedures that followed reflected America’s values and called for all detainees in the war on terrorism in our custody to be treated humanely, and to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of the Geneva Convention.
The release of these declassified documents will demonstrate the transparency in which we are conducting inquiries into allegations of detainee abuse. What follows is a brief timeline that lead to the development of these documents and the interrogation procedures that are in effect today at Guantanamo.
On Jan. 11, 2002, the first detainees arrived at JTF-Guantanamo. The doctrine contained in Field Manual 34-52 guided interrogations from January to December 2002.
-- FM 34-52 sets forth the basic principles for interrogations for the U.S. Armed Forces in a conventional military conflict.
-- The initial approaches governing interrogations at Guantanamo were in accordance with the standing doctrine outlined in FM 34-52. These procedures include 17 techniques such as direct questioning and providing incentives.
During the summer and fall of 2002, the United States was in a high-threat environment, and intelligence continued to indicate planning by al Qaeda for attacks in the U.S. and elsewhere. Among the detainees at Guantanamo were individuals with close connections to al Qaeda leadership and planning figures.
These individuals include financiers, bodyguards, recruiters and operators. There were detainees assessed to possess significant information of al Qaeda plans. They were also demonstrating training in al Qaeda resistance methods to the approaches set out in FM 34-52.
On Oct. 11, 2002, the commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo requested the use of additional interrogation techniques for Mu hammad, Mani Ahmed and S’hal Lan al Qahtani, individuals believed to have close al Qaeda connections. The Commander requested approval for 20 other interrogation techniques.
On Oct. 25, 2002, the commander of the U.S. Southern Command forwarded the request to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for approval. The request included 20 techniques.
On November 27, 2002, General Counsel, after discussing the request with Deputy Secretary of Defense, Under Secretary of Defense (Policy) and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended that the Secretary of Defense approve 17 of the 20 techniques requested by Southern Command.
On Dec. 2, 2002 the Secretary of Defense approved the 17 techniques recommended by the General Counsel. The techniques approved were arranged on a three-tiered system that required approval from different levels of the chain of command before they could be used. A number of the techniques that were approved were never used. These guidelines were in effect from Dec. 2, 2002 until Jan. 15, 2003.
On Jan.15, 2003 the Secretary of Defense rescinded the Dec. 2 guidance when he learned of concern about the implementation of the techniques. The Secretary of Defense directed the Department of Defense General Counsel to establish a working group to assess the legal, policy, and operational issues relating to the interrogation of detainees held by the U. S. Armed Forces in the war on terrorism.
The working group consisted of representatives of the military departments, service general counsels, the Judge Advocates General of the armed services, defense policy, the joint staff, and the Defense Intelligence Agency. The Department of Justice advised the working group in its deliberations. The working group reported 35 techniques as appropriate for consideration for use and rejected several as either inappropriate or lacking sufficient information to permit review. The final product of the working group included a list of techniques and procedures.
(Note: This working group was the subject of a Department of Defense background briefing on May 20, 2004. The briefing transcript can be located at http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2004/tr20040520-0788.html.)
After this deliberate and determinative legal and policy review, the Secretary of Defense approved the use of 24 techniques for use at Guantanamo on April 16, 2003. Seventeen of the techniques approved for use at Guantanamo come from FM 34-52. Four of the techniques require notification to the Secretary before use.
It is the policy and practice of the Department of Defense to treat detainees in the War on Terrorism humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of the Geneva Convention.
No procedures approved for use ordered, authorized, permitted, or tolerated torture. Individuals who have abused the trust and confidence placed in them will be held accountable. There are a number of inquiries that are ongoing to look at specific allegations of abuse, and those investigations will run their course.
Click here for the full release, including links to various documents, on the Pentagon website.